To examine if the use of heat at home can result in better quality and safer mobility in the elderly with gait and balance impairments.
Setting: Randomized longitudinal cross over study design in a clinical setting.
Methods: 20 people with impaired mobility (assessed as a score of more than 4 on the Stepping On questionnaire) were tested with a multi-camera gait analysis system, a treadmill with pressure sensors, a balance platform and the timed up and go and walking speed tests before and after using ThermaCare continuous heat wraps on their legs and knees for 6 days at 4 hours per day. The loss in mobility could not be due to pain killers or other drugs that reduced mobility.
Results: Muscle tremor was reduced, mobility of the joints was improved, balance was significantly improved, and gait was improved after 6 sessions of heat application on the legs. As per the literature, this should reduce the chance of falls in this population.
Conclusion: Using continuous heat wraps may be an important adjunct for improving gait in the elderly with gait impairments.
Petrofsky, J. S., Laymon, M. S., Khowailed, I. A., & Lee, H. (2016). The effect of ThermaCare heat wraps on balance and mobility in seniors with impaired gait - A cross over study. Journal of Physiotherapy & Physical Rehabilitation, 1(1) [Article 1000105].